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THE BURIAL OF THE LORD JESUS
ST. JOHN XIX. 41-42. “Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden ; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid. There laid they Jesus."
In the chapter from which these words are taken we have the account of our Lord's crucifixion, given us by one who was an eye-witness of His cruel sufferings, who stood by His Cross, and saw Him die, and to whom He committed, as a parting charge, the care of His bereaved mother. We have St. John's account of the death of Jesus Christ, and we have also his account of His burial. And it is to this that I would now invite your attention. I would ask you to look at the Gospel record of the Lord's Burial. We have four accounts of it, for all the Evangelists relate it; but it will be sufficient to follow St. John's narrative, which has already come before you in the second lesson.
The subject is one of great interest to a Christian. That Christ was Buried is one of the twelve articles of the Apostles' Creed. He " suffered under Pontius Pilate: was crucified, dead, and buried; He descended into hell; the third day He rose again from the dead. He ascended into Heaven."
The Burial, you all see, lies between His Humiliation and His Exaltation. It is the pausing point in His history, Who, for the suffering of death was made a little lower than the angels. The moment when the hope and faith of His followers was most sorely tried; when victory seemed to be with His enemy. But it was only seeming. The grave was to Jesus Christ the gate of life; He passed through into His glorious resurrection.
And now in all Churches of His people, this interment, this laying of the Lord's Body in the grave, to see, as it was then supposed, corruptionthis, which at the time, took away all part and hope from His followers, is now regarded by all Christians as a ground of joy and thankfulness. We see in it the turning point for the better in the history of our redemption. In our Litany we join the Burial of Christ with His Crucifixion, and with His Resurrection, in one and the same fervent prayer to Him for help. “By Thine agony and bloody sweat; by Thy Cross and passion; by Thy precious Death and Burial ; by Thy glorious Resurrection and Ascension; and by the coming of the Holy Ghost, good Lord, deliver us !"
Let us, then, look again at the inspired narrative of the Lord's Burial: and note afterward some practical lessons it has for ourselves.
And first, of the manner and place of His interment-this is clearly pointed out in the text. the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid. There laid they Jesus, because of the Jews' preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand.”
The garden, it would seem, was close to Calvary, the spot on which the Crucifixion took place. And at this very day in Jerusalem, they show both the Sepulchre and Calvary enclosed within a Church which has been erected over the site-the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. At that time the garden belonged to Joseph of Arimathæa, a rich and honourable Jew, who himself had been disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews. He it was, who, when the even was come, went in boldly unto Pilate, and begged the Body of Jesus. Pilate having ascer
tained that He was dead, ordered the Body to be delivered. And when Joseph had taken the Body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in His own new tomb. This was a cave hollowed out of the solid rock, which Joseph, like a man conscious of mortality, who lived in expectation of death, had prepared beforehand for his own use. It was a new
a tomb, as yet no burial had taken place there, and it was closed at the mouth by a heavy slab of stonetoo heavy for any single hand to raise it; it was “rolled," we are told, to the door of the sepulchre. In the act of mercy, Joseph was helped by another honourable Jew, “Nicodemus, which at the first
“, came to Jesus by night," and who now brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pound weight, for the purpose of embalming. And so these two, whose praise is for ever in the Gospel, grown brave at last, buried together the Lord Jesus. They had not time completely to embalm Him, because it was now evening, and the Sabbath drew on; but they did all that this short space of time permitted, they wound the body in linen clothes with the spices, and laid it with all tender care in the new tomb, “and rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed, and rested the Sabbath Day, according to the Commandment."
So was the Burial performed of the Lord Jesus, and His Sepulchre exists at this day. There can be
little doubt but that the hollow cave in the Church in Jerusalem, where burns an undying lamp, and which is visited each Easter by thousands and ten thousands of Christians-is the identical spot in which the body of the Lord was laid on the evening of the day on which He was crucified. And in laying Him there was fulfilled an ancient prophecy of Isaiah, which declares that although He was treated as the worst of felons, and numbered among the transgressors, yet that He should be "with the rich in His death.” This prophecy was accomplished by His burial in Joseph's new tomb. And count it not a light thing that so it happened unto Him. It is one of the many proofs which the New Testament affords of the accuracy and truthfulness of the old prophet. A witness to us that holy men of old, when they spake beforehand of the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow, were guided in all they said by the unerring light of the Holy
Yes! by being “ Buried” our Lord fulfilled what was written of Him; and not only that, but He thereby has given us the best and most positive assurance that He died for us. Men-it has been truly said--are not put into the earth before they die. The interment only follows after the expiration of soul and body, after life is extinct. The fact that our Blessed Lord was laid in the grave sets the